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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Introduction     ,                    21
Now compare these with the following translations of the same
petition in Latin and its daughtei languages •
Da nobis hodie panem nostrum quotidianum   (Latin;
Donne-nous aujourd'hui notre pain quotidien  (French)
Danos hoy nuestro pan cotidiano                   (Spanish)
Dacci oggi il nostro pane cotidiano                 (Italian)
O pao nosso dc cada dia dai-nos hoje              (Portuguese)
By the time you have read through the first five, you will probably
have realized without recourse to a dictionary that they correspond to
the English sentence Give us this day our daily bread. That the next
five mean the same might also be obvious to a Frenchman,, though
it may not be obvious to us if we do not already know Fiench, or a
language like French If we are told that all ten sentences mean the
same thing, it is not difficult to see that German, Dutch, Swedish,
Danish, and Icelandic share with English common features which
English does not share with the other five languages, and that French,
Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese share with Latin common features
which they do not share with the Germanic group
It is a common belief that learning two languages calls for twice as
much effort as learning one. This may be roughly true, if the two
languages are not more alike than French and German, and if the
beginner's aim is to speak either like a native If they belong to the
same family, and if the beginner has a more modest end in view, it
is not true Many people will find that the effort spent on building
up a small, woikmanlike vocabulary and getting a grasp of essential
grammatical peculiarities of four closely related languages is not much
greater than the effort spent on getting an equivalent knowledge of
one alone, The reason for this is obvious if we approach learning
languages as a problem of applied biology The ease with which we
remember things depends on being able to associate one thing with
another In many branches of knowledge, a little learning is a difficult
thing
As an isolated act it is difficult, because extremely tedious, to memor-
ize the peculiarities of each individual bone of a rabbit. When we
realize that bones are the alphabet of the written record of evolution in
tihe sedimentary rocks, the study of their peculiarities is full of interest
Biologists with experience of elementary teaching know that it is far
more satisfying—and therefore more easy—to learn the essential
peculiarities of the bones of representative types from all the various
classes of vertebrates than to memorize *n great detail the skeleton of